Flu is a common respiratory tract infection caused by influenza virus. This is often self-limiting or it heals on its own. Hence, recovery from this illness is often dependent on the strength of the immune response.
Despite that typical influenza infection is not that lethal, new strains of influenza virus have put the world into chaos. One of the latest flu virus strains is the bird flu virus or H5N1 virus. It has been famous for causing influenza infection to millions of birds across the globe and has been found to infect humans as well. Indeed, the number of people that had died from bird flu isn’t that alarming yet as birds are its primary targets as of now. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) had only recorded 300 deaths in several countries as of February 2011. However, the degree of fatality when a human acquires bird flu is 60%. Health experts just can’t imagine when this strain of virus mutates and becomes more compatible of infecting humans at a higher rate. It will definitely hunt down humanity and for sure bird flu pandemic will be declared!.
What is bird flu?
Bird flu is a subtype of influenza that is highly infectious to avian animals like chicken, turkeys, ducks as well as wild and other domesticated birds. As mentioned earlier, its causative agent is the H5N1 influenza A virus.
It can infect humans by having direct contact with infected poultries or being exposed to places that are contaminated with discharge and droppings from infected birds. Thus, most cases of bird flu among humans are related to constant exposure to avian animals like those who work in poultry farms. On the other hand, this type of influenza cannot be transmitted from person-to-person. Instead, the infection spreads bird-to-bird and bird-to-humans.
What are the signs and symptoms of bird flu?
The signs and symptoms of bird flu are similar to the typical influenza symptoms such as follows:
• Sore throat
• Myalgia (muscle pain)
• Nasal discharge
• Sore eyes (some cases)
• Nausea and vomiting
• Diarrhea or loose bowel movement
The difference between the common flu and H5N1 influenza is the source of infection and the causative agent. Aside from these, bird flu is not that common among humans but it is deadlier than the common flu.
How is bird flu diagnosed and treated?
Bird flu is detected by having a person’s sputum or nasal discharge subjected for laboratory culture. This will identify the causative agent of the illness.
As of the moment, the drug of choice for bird flu is the antiviral medication oseltamivir or Tamiflu per recommendation of the World Health Organization. Unlike other types of influenza infection that only requires for natural healing, antiviral drug is quite essential to prevent death in bird flu infection. Besides, this avian flu is extremely virulent that it can result to lung consolidation and even respiratory arrest.
Overall, human death rate with bird flu is not that frightening yet. But, the capacity to kill of the H5N1 virus is 60% accurate. Is it possible that this avian flu virus is just getting started with its wipe out missions against mankind?